How does the Great Gatsby Reflect America in the Twenties Essay

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How does the Great Gatsby Reflect America in the Twenties Essay

This essay will explore how “The Great Gatsby” reflects America in the 1920s. It will discuss the representation of the Jazz Age, the pursuit of the American Dream, and the social and moral changes of the era. The piece will analyze how Fitzgerald captures the spirit and complexities of the Roaring Twenties. You can also find more related free essay samples at PapersOwl about Jay Gatsby.

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The Critique of the American Dream in “The Great Gatsby”

The roaring twenties are often known as a dramatic social and political change, where people strived to be more than what they were with the wrong intentions. The classic novel The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, asserts the purpose of criticizing American society by using the characters Nick Caraway, Daisy Buchanan, and of course, Jay Gatsby to capture the different ways the American Dream was seen by the American people.

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In doing this, Fitzgerald is targeting those seeking the American Dream only to let them know that it shouldn’t be a goal of just fame and money. Through Nick’s point of view, Daisy’s selfishness, and the tragic death of Gatsby, we find out that the American Dream is a promise that can never truly be satisfied.

Nick’s Observations and the Reality of the Dream

While Nick is observing the different characters as the story progresses, he realizes that the American Dream is both a promise and a lie, which is later depicted at the near end of the story when Daisy never admits to her wrongful actions, and letting Gatsby take the blame, which ultimately leads to his tragic death. Nick observed how deeply in love Gatsby was with Daisy. Through Nick’s observations it creates a juxtaposition against the American Dream being a fresh start to become successful, only to find out that after supposed hard work, dreams are not always fulfilled. The American Dream is too good to be true, and Fitzgerald points this out to those who are too naive to grasp the truth of capturing this dream.

Daisy’s Careless Pursuit

The novel tends to focus on the difficult love story that Gatsby and Daisy are in. The amount of effort Gatsby has tried to show to the girl of his dreams proves that she is unobtainable. Daisy had taken a shortcut through life, living a lavish lifestyle without a care for anyone in the world but herself. She was a “careless” person who “smashed up things” and always returned to her “vast carelessness.” This makes her the perfect symbol for the American Dream as she represents aristocracy, wealth, sophistication, and grace. Gatsby wanted this, which we know from the start because, behind Gatsby’s bountiful facade, we know where he really came from. And in return, Daisy was in love with the idea of Gatsby, which symbolizes people being in love with the idea of capturing the American Dream only to take grasp it in the wrong way and with the wrong intentions. She never seemed to be satisfied with what she already had in her life. After Gatsby takes Daisy to his extravagant house, she begins to “cry stormily” over the numerous amounts of fancy shirts Gatsby supposedly bought from England, which shows the readers Daisy’s true shallow character. Through Daisy’s representation of the American Dream, Fitzgerald criticizes how people continue to want to surpass their American Dream and lose track of the true meaning the dream is supposed to hold.

Gatsby’s Illusion of Success

As mentioned earlier, Nick stated that the American Dream was both a promise and a lie. In Gatsby’s case, he is the embodiment of the American Dream. His mere story of going from rags to riches is the first thought someone may think of when they hear about the American Dream. The process of working for Daisy’s love and attention shows the hidden reality of when trying to obtain the dream. Gatsby’s dream was “so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.” This refers to the futility of Gatsby’s dreams and how he was holding onto the small chance of rekindling his love with Daisy. As close as Gatsby was to achieving his American Dream, Daisy, he never really had a chance to gain her from the start. Fitzgerald is once again proving the false promises held behind this dream.

Conclusion: The Authenticity of the American Dream

Fitzgerald’s use of characterization to convey his critique of the American Dream showed what exactly it was, the process to accomplish it, and the truth behind it. Throughout his novel, he continues to target the American people for their lack of authenticity in finding a purpose for the American Dream.


  1. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Scribner, 1925.
  2. Bruccoli, Matthew J. Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald. University of South Carolina Press, 2002.
  3. Mizener, Arthur. The Far Side of Paradise: A Biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1951.
  4. Tredell, Nicolas. The Great Gatsby: A Reader’s Guide. Continuum, 2007.
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How Does the Great Gatsby Reflect America in the Twenties Essay. (2023, Jun 15). Retrieved from